1. Namibia Desert - The oldest Desert in the world.
Welcome to the land of the oldest desert in the world, an extremely unique environment which stretches from South Africa, along the coast of Namibia, and into Angola to the North. It is also home to one of the tallest dunes in the world.
Another great scenic area that can be experienced is where the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean. The dunes extend perfectly into the water, creating a beautiful scene which can't be find anywhere else in the world.
2. The most photographed Dune in the world.
Have you ever heard of Dune 45? No? Well, that's okay but the so called Dune 45 is the most photographed dune on Earth and located at the Sossusvlei part of the Namibia Desert.
The dune is around 5 million years old and almost reaches 170 meters in height, which is comparable to the pyramids of Giza. As one of many visitors, I wondered why Dune 45 became so popular. This question is actually very easy to answer. It is conveniently located next to the road. You stop, click, and continue your drive.
3. The Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari is one of the most interesting places to visit in Namibia, thanks to its diverse wildlife. It's home to the Cheetah, Zebra, Springbok, Ostrich, the Oryx, Giraffe, Elephant, the endangered African Wild Dog, and many more species. You'll also notice the massive bird nests hanging off trees and poles along the desert of the Kalahari.
It's home to the Sociable Weaver and those are probably the most beautiful nests built by any bird. They can weigh up to 1,000kg. Many lodges are located inside the Kalahari, offering great tours with sunset drinks. I can strongly recommend the Kalahari Anib Lodge which was recently renovated and feels like a true place of hospitality.
4. The Country of Sunrises
If somebody was gonna ask me whether I prefer sunrises or sunsets, I would always go for a good sunset, for one simple reason. I'm asleep during 98% of sunrises. However that changed after traveling to Namibia. While staying at the Namibia Desert Lodge we met up for an early sunrise and coffee trip on a little hill just next to the lodge.
I'm not exaggerating if I say that this must been on of the most amazing experiences. Seeing the sunrise while overlooking the Namibian Desert with all its beauty was out of this world. So please excuse the Chinese tourist who asked whether this was the same sun she could see in China...
5. The Country of Sunsets
What follows an amazing sunrise? Yes, an even better sunset. Isn't that obvious? While staying at the Kalahari Anib Lodge I experienced one of them. As part of the Safari, we stopped at one of the little dunes for the famous 'Kalahari Bar'. Our driver would set up the table with beers, gin and tonic, and other drinks while we would enjoy the sun disappearing beyond the horizon.
The opportunity to slurp a chilled drink in one of the most unique places on Earth turned this into a very special moment, I will never forget. If you want to experience one of those sunsets, book yourself a room at the lodge too.
6. The Wildlife of Namibia
The former German colony is also known for it's diverse wildlife. While you can find most of the animals all around the country for some of them you should visit the Etosha National Park. It's home to the tallest elephant in Africa as well as the Black Rhinoceros, which is critical endangered and very rare to be spotted.
Also Lions can be found here, which are a big attraction. Other national parks are the Waterberg National Park and the Cape Cross Seal reserve which is home to one of the biggest Seal colony in the world.
7. One of the few German Colonies
Germany was never really recognised as a colonial power such as the British, Spanish, or Portuguese. However the Germans made some claims in Africa and Guinea, which is commonly known as Papua New Guinea nowadays. Namibia, referred to as German South-West Africa, was one of them.
Until today, German is still widely used as a language. Around 30,000 people of German descent still live in Namibia, especially in Swakopmund and Lüderitz. The German influence has shaped the country's history, but the colonial troops have also committed crimes against local tribes for which the Government of German officially apologized in 2004.
- Read the History of Namibia.
8. The Laid-Back Capital of Windhoek
If I think of African capitals such as Johannesburg or Cairo, it always reminds me of how busy a city can be. That definitely doesn't include the relaxed and chilled capital of Namibia. Windhoek is more or less located in the geographical centre of the country and is home to around 350,000 people.
The 'Christuskirche' or the Parliament Gardens are sights worth checking out. The local markets and the vibe of the people is what I found most interesting. The night life is good on a weekend while it is hard to find a good party during the week. I stayed at the Hilton Hotel, which offers an amazing rooftop pool overlooking most of the city. It's a great place, especially during sunset.
- Find a list with things to do in Windhoek here.
9. The Coastal Town of Swakopmund
Another noticeable city in Namibia is Swakopmund, located on the coast of Western Namibia. Mund is the German word for mouth, and Swakop is the name of a river floating into the ocean near the city, hence the name. Even though it's the 4th largest town in the country, it is only home to 45,000 people.
During the summer months, Swakop is a popular destination for tourists and beach lovers. It is known for its little coffee places, German architecture and great beaches. The sea food is also outstanding. I stayed at the Swakopmund Strand Hotel which is an excellent choice when staying in the town.
- Read a more detailed Travel Guide to Swakopmund.
10. The Skeleton Coast
Skeleton Beach is a place where you'd rather not be, unless you are part of a tour. The locals call it "The Land God created in Anger." If you happen to be stranded there, the chances of survival are around zero percent.
The Namibian desert coast, which covers most of the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is known as "Skeleton Coast". Many shipwrecks can be found here due to the dangerous current of the sea in this region. Once you're stranded here, the chances of survival are almost zero due to the hard conditions of the desert.
- Read this amazing story on most of the shipwrecks stranded.
11. The Himba People
The Himba people are particularly known for their unique braided hair which is coloured and shaped with Otjize paste. The semi nomadic tribe lives in the Kunene Region of Namibia, which is located in the North.
The use of clay in their hair protects them from the harsh sun. They also apply a special mixture of butterfat and ochre on their skin in order to keep bugs and mosquitos away. It is also known to protect the skin from the heat of the desert.
- Read this story "A Day with the Himba People" for more insight.
12. The Endless Desert Drives
Namibia is a big country which is also extremely dry making most of the land uninhabitable. Whenever you travel overland and use the desert 'highways' you'll encounter those endless deserts and dunes.
You can literally drive for hours without meeting any cars, people, or wildlife while driving between two major cities. It is pure nature and makes you appreciate Mother Earth a little more. I just loved staring into the never ending savannahs of Namibia never knowing what to expect next.
13. The largest Free Roaming Cheetah population
The Cheetah is the Ferrari of all the animals. It was literally designed for speed and the cat is a true master piece of mother nature. It no surprise that the fastest animal on Earth is unfortunately endangered. But Namibia is home to the largest free roaming Cheetah population on the planet. You can visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund which is only located 3 hours North of the capital city Windhoek.
14. Meet the Oryx, the Master of the Desert
The Oryx was literally designed for the harsh and hot conditions of any desert around the world. They can survive in the extreme heat for hours with a body temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.
If our body temperature rises beyond 39 Celsius we are most likely going to die. The Oryx has a special cooling system integrated to their bodies which helps the blood cool down before it reaches the brain. While traveling Namibia you will encounter a lot of those gorgeous animals.
15. Lüderitz, a little bit of Germany in Africa
As mentioned before, Namibia used to be a German Colony and one of it's town can't deny it's heritage more than Lüderitz. As the name already suggests, it was formed and founded by Germans.
The Harbour Town, located South of Walvis Bay is home to German architecture and heritage. The 'Felsenkirche' in known in particular since the church is standing on a mountain overlooking most of the town and the bay. The town was very popular during the diamond rush in the early 19th century.
16. Go Whale Watching at Walvis Bay
The city of Walvis Bay is the industrial hub and main harbour of Namibia. It is literally the place where all the money is. There is also a street called the 'Millionaires Mile' just next to the bay boulevard.
However, Walvis is also home to some beautiful marine life. These waters drew large numbers of Southern Right Whales to the bay as well as dolphins, seals, Mola Molas, and Penguins. Also Pelicans frequently land on the boats which are majestic animals.
- You can find more tours here.
17. Try some Namibian Oysters
Thanks to the nutrient-rich waters of Walvis Bay, the Namibian Oysters are among the best you can have. The French may disagree on that statement but the Oyster industry is booming in the African country and so is the demand. I got to try a few while visiting the Bay and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this little treat. They are not as salty as Tasmanian Oysters for instance, but they sure are tasty.
18. Explore the Townships of Katutura
Some people enjoy those tours others don't. When I visited a township back in Cape Town in 2013 it was a very strange experience. But it is important to understand the history and the circumstances during the times of Apartheid.
Namibia only gained independence in 1990 from South Africa and was therefore affected by the laws of separating Black and White citizens. The former neighbourhood of Katutura welcomes tourist to experience it first hand, and offers tours through the township.
- Find more info about tours here.
19. Take the Desert Express for a real adventure
Traveling by train in Namibia can take a long time. To cover the 300km distance between Swakopmund and Windhoek will take around 10 hours, a long time if you look at the alternatives.
But the so called "Desert Express" can also be quite charming if you enjoy to travel by train. If you happen to be very brave you can take the 7-day journey up North to Etosha National Park which will guarantee a great adventure, a lot of new friendships, and the journey of a life time.
20. A Paradise for Surfers
Travelers like myself and Surfers have one big thing in common we want to find those amazing places or waves nobody else knows of. I think I know a place which offers world class waves which you are going to have all to yourself.
I mentioned Skeleton Coast earlier and let me say it is home to the strongest currents in Africa creating some bad ass breaks. The place is quite inaccessible but a few guides offer tours on a 4x4 from Swakopmund. Read more about the Surf here.
21. Visit the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop
A 100 years ago, German Soldiers enjoyed themselves in the local bars or ballroom in the little town of Kolmanskop, just a short drive from Lüderitz. The town was super popular during the diamond rush. It's also home to the first ever tram in Africa.
Nowadays you won't see much of it anymore, in fact Kolmanskop turned into a ghost town. Making it one of the most visited sights inside the country. The forces of the desert mean that most of the tourists find themselves walking in knee-deep sand inside the abandoned houses.
22. Experience some real Namibian Art at the Craft Centre
Who doesn't like to buy some souvenirs for your loved ones back home. Especially when it comes all the way from Africa. Let me tell you that the art from the Black Continent is one of the most beautiful and exotic you can find anywhere around the globe.
The Namibian Craft Centre, which is located in Windhoek, displays art from around the country, and supports more than 4,000 jobs around Namibia. From woven baskets, carved Makalani kernels to stylish San ostrich-eggshell jewellery, there isn't anything you can't find.
23. See the Amazing Epupa Falls
Located between the border of Angola and Namibia, the Epupa Falls are one of the most beautiful gifts of mother nature you could possibly think of. Even getting there is quite of an adventure and definitely requires a car with off road capabilities.
The Epupa Falls or "Monte Negro Falls" (that's what they are called in Angola) are part of the Kunene River, which divides those two nations. The area is also home to the Himba people which you will notice on your way. The river is also home to some crocodiles so you better watch your step.
24. Explore the Desert from a Hot Air Balloon
Remember the "out of the world" sunrises and sunsets I described earlier in this article? Now imagine you could see them from the air in a hot air balloon. Sounds like a dream?
Well, it could soon be reality if you want to. The Sossusvlei Lodge offers exactly those mind blowing scenic sunrise flights where you can literally take your experience to another level. The lodge is located in South Namibia in the Namibian Nauklauft Park. Enjoy the flight and make sure you send me some photos.
25. Explore the Sesriem Canyon
The Sesriem Canyon isn't quite the Grand Canyon but often described as a hidden gem and that's what it truly is. You can easily explore the canyon by foot.
The ravine is located only 4km from the little town of Sesriem near the Sossusvlei salt and clay pan, which is another attraction you should visit. The "Big Daddy" Dune is also just nearby, and is 325 meter tall. It almost reaches the same height as the Empire State Building in New York City.